All individuals entering the U.S. at international ports of entry are inspected by US Customs & Border Protection (CBP).  This occurs at either the arrival airport in the U.S., Pre-Flight Inspection if flying from most Canadian airports, or border crossings into the U.S. from either Canada or Mexico.  This is an inspection to determine the individual’s eligibility to legally enter the U.S., as well as to confirm any necessary customs declarations or possession of contraband.

Because of the unique nature of the border or port of entry inspection and the concern over national security, U.S. law gives CBP officers wide latitude in how to conduct the inspection, including verbal questioning, inspection of luggage, and, lately, even inspection and retention of electronic devices. Usually, the inspection process is quick and painless. However, since the administration’s recent attempts to ban certain individuals from entering the country in the name of national security, CBP officers have reportedly been reaching beyond the normal procedures to search people’s phones and compel individuals to unlock their smartphone as a part of the search. Not only are border agents doing cursory searches, as in thumbing through an individual’s phone, but in some instances, they will dig deeper and download the contents of the device onto their own computer system and run forensic search algorithms to reveal all the data, including deleted files that have not yet been overwritten and metadata that the owner did not know was there. Case law for this kind of search is undeveloped, so an individual’s rights against this invasion of privacy are not clear until challenged in court.

Below are some FAQs to help you through this process if you face additional scrutiny.  These questions and responses have been formulated with the best information available, but you should know that in any given situation, CBP officers may expand the inspection process subjecting you or your possessions to additional scrutiny.

Continue Reading FAQs for Entering the U.S.—Entry Inspection and Electronic Devices

As foreign national employees come back from summer vacations and travel abroad, one of the most overlooked immigration documents and pitfalls is Form I-94.  If Form I-94 is issued for a shorter validity period than the maximum allowed or previously approved in a visa category, the traveler will have to travel out of the country or file an extension of status by the date on the I-94.  Either option may be a burden monetarily and logistically.

Continue Reading Back to Work from Travel Abroad? Check Your Form I-94!

From: Ned Help

To: Carrie Counselor

Subject:    URGENT: Employee Detained at the Airport?

Carrie:

What an afternoon!  When Winston Wild’s manager called me, indicating that he was detained at Pearson International Airport, we did not know what to do, which is why I called you.

Thank you for calling Winston Wild so quickly and explaining that he was only delayed and placed in Secondary Inspection.  This scare made me realize that I have little understanding about what our employees might experience at the airport and what could go wrong.  When you have a moment, please explain what you mean by “secondary inspection” and strategies we can employ internally when something goes awry at the airport. Continue Reading Innocents Abroad: Emergency at the Border—Key Considerations

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015” into law. On January 21, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) began implementing changes to the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). There are two main changes to the program: individuals who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria since March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions) and/or are dual nationals of one of those countries and a VWP country are, with limited exceptions, no longer eligible for the VWP. However, these individuals may apply for a nonimmigrant visitor’s visa at a US consular post abroad, where they will be subject to the normal vetting process for US visas. Continue Reading CBP releases FAQ on Visa Waiver Program: Rule Changes